Keeping a Chin Up in Vegas

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If you ask anyone or read the papers, things are looking down in Vegas.  The economy is taking its toll, and hotels and casinos are making some of their best deals to attract vacationers.  This was my fourth trip to Las Vegas, and as I've seen the major casinos a few times, I decided to take on a different perspective, literally keeping my chin up. 

Stepping inside any of the hotels, you quickly find that it's hard to get from, for example, a restaurant to a show venue, without passing through the casino.  This is good planning on the casinos' part.  As a non-gambler, it remains easy to be distracted by the cha-ching of casino operations and the flashing lights, but these are not located in a nondescript metal building.  No, the interiors are lavishly decorated and filled with art: statues, paintings, sculptures, inlaid tiles, floral gardens, etc.

But sometimes you can miss things if you don't look up.  Amongst all things sinful in Vegas, the sin that apparently weighs most on the minds Bellagio - Chihulyof interior decorators is unadorned ceiling space.  This is abundantly clear upon entering the registration area of Bellagio.  Chihuly glass art just can't be ignored. 

The proportion of this overhead lighting ensemble is lost here, but the size and obvious weight of it above your head demands attention, even if the spectacle somehow fails.

Bellagio Balloons

That is but one and a more obvious featured ceiling "exhibit." Continuing our tour of Bellagio, we have hot air balloons.  Why?  I have no clue.  But if you don't look up, you'll miss them.  No, they're not working models, but they fill an atrium nicely.Bellagio Ceiling Decoration


And sometimes, a ceiling adornment  is not really a definable object, just a very colorful something, made of silks or other fabrics.  Add a little zoom, and it will remain a very colorful something.

Changing venues, we move to the Wynn.  Some fixtures are not particularly intrusive - they enhance the area and blend in but are, nevertheless, appreciated.

Wynn Casino

And if they are individually less remarkable, the sheer number remains impressive.  "Lots of" seems to be the secondary design criteria when "Big" is not workable.Wynn Casino Hallway

But, "Big" just needs room, and if there's one thing Vegas has, it's room.  In some areas, where the ceiling is high enough, a designer does not have to worry about someone bumping their head, or, more likely, an alcohol induced leap that may harm the fixture.


Wynn Sometimes, a potpourri of lighting fixtures will work.  Why be so picky when there's space for plenty?  This is another atrium in the Wynn, and I wonder how many people ignore the lights as an infinity pool and waterfall are the featured highlight in this area.


Encore Portico Moving next door to Wynn's Encore, we have further variety.  Let's imagine that you take a taxi to the hotel, and a bellhop whisks away your luggage as you enter to register.  Do you notice the ceiling of the portico?  The point being, ceiling art or fanciful light fixtures are everywhere

This one was not so much a favorite, and struck me as an upside down gravy bowl.  But art is in the eye of the beholder, and it casts a pleasant golden light in the area.  

 Encore Hallway

Not far away, butterflies appear to be drawn to the light at the entrance to the Encore Theatre, but perhaps moths would be a more fitting metaphor for Vegas tourists.

Encore Theatre Butterflies

Although the inspiration for the fixtures or their placements may be a mystery (the butterflies are a motif throughout the Encore), sometimes they make sense.  In an Oriental restaurant, these simple shapes seem to fit.

Encore - Wazuzu

Elsewhere, stylistic commitmentSinatra Chandelier may lead to monstrous insertions.  In keeping with the  Sinatra restaurant's retro look, this fixture, last seen sucking the salt from the crew of the USS Enterprise, lurks above unsuspecting diners.  It's not as savage as it appears, but must be observed closely for appreciation of its fabrics, ropes and tones.  It kind of sucks you in that way.

Encore Hallway

These inverted carnation fixtures were very colorful, but it also makes one stop and think... who designs these?  It seems just any concept drawn on a napkin in a bar, when greased with enough cash, can become reality.  But, that's Vegas.


And finally we come to these, Encore Shopping Area rather extravagant appearing chandeliers, which both complement the space and the retailers below.

So, what's the point?  Well, first, Vegas is a fun place to take pictures as at every turn there seems something picture worthy...if you look for it. 

Secondly, everything on the Vegas Strip invites an inquiry as to its legitimacy, beginning most obviously with "Why did they build this here?"  As you behold a glass pyramid, Camelot, NYC, the Roman Empire, Venice and the Eiffel Tower, an overwhelming sensation of "too much" looms even as a sense of scale is lost.  Clearly, the cash involved here allows the aspirations of designers to achieve their most outlandish whims, yet, there is often a beauty in the Strip's opulence, whether real or fake.  If it's not evident on an individual basis, the grandeur of the place makes a very clear and unsurprising reminder that in the end, Vegas wins. 

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